Do I Need To Buy Law School Supplements? - JD Advising
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Law School Supplements

Do I Need To Buy Law School Supplements?

There are hundreds of supplements that are available for practically every subject that is taught in law school – the selection can be somewhat overwhelming!  In this post, we identify the supplements that are the most beneficial!

Do I Need To Buy Law School Supplements?

What are supplements?

After spending hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on casebooks, the last thing you probably want to do is spend more money on books for law school.  When used correctly, supplements can actually be extremely beneficial and significantly cut down the amount of time it takes you to prepare for class.

Unlike casebooks, supplements usually distill the key points of a case for you, or lay out the law in a clear, formulaic manner without making you distill and put together the pieces of the law that you learn from the cases.  Other supplements provide practice examples and questions that can help you prepare for exams.

You should NOT buy every single supplement available and leave them in an unopened stack on your desk.  However, you may be wondering how to figure out if a supplement is a good idea before you spend a lot of money on it (they can be pricey, and it adds up quickly!).  Before going out and buying supplements, check your law school’s library.  Many law school libraries keep supplements on the shelves.  Often they are older versions (and a more updated version is available), but taking a look at a particular supplement may give you a better idea of what it includes and whether it would actually be helpful for your class.

You also may not need a supplement for every single class.  You may want to try the class for a few weeks.  If it seems like the class will be a struggle, that may be an indication that you should invest in a supplement to ensure that you succeed.  On the other hand, if the class seems fairly straightforward, you may not need a supplement for that class!

Commercial Briefs

One supplement that we do recommend is a commercial briefs book.  When looking for a commercial briefs book, be sure to find one that is “keyed” to your casebook (in other words, the supplement is specifically tailored the edition of your casebook that your professor has selected).

A commercial briefs supplement is helpful because it saves time as you are preparing for class.  A commercial briefs supplement contains a brief (or summary) of each case that is contained within your case book.  Before reading the long, dense case in your case book, read the case brief.  This will give you an idea of what the case is about and what you are supposed to take away from the case.  That way, you won’t spend hours poring over the case and trying to understand the rule of law in preparation for class.  Instead, you can simply skim the case for what you already know to be the important points.

One particularly good series of commercial briefs is Casenote Legal Briefs.  Again, be sure that whatever commercial briefs supplement you invest in is specifically keyed to your casebook!

Commercial Outlines

A commercial outline is different from a commercial briefs book in that a commercial outline is centered around the law, rather than centered around the cases.  Are you unsure what the elements of negligence are?  A commercial outline will clearly lay out the elements of negligence, and likely provide an explanation of each element.  While some law school professors may clearly lay out the law for you, others may not be as direct, encouraging the students to figure out the law on their own.  This can be tricky, and this is where a commercial outline comes in handy!  Rather than spending hours trying to figure out the law, the commercial outline will lay it out clearly for you!

Some commercial outlines also provide helpful examples and sample questions that can help prepare you for final exams!  Remember, learning the law is only half the battle; you also have to be able to apply it!

Some of the commercial outlines that we recommend include Examples and Explanations, Glannon Guides, and Siegel’s series.

Other Resources

Some students are now turning to online resources such as Quimbee for assistance during law school.  The good news is that websites like Quimbee often offer a free trial so that you can evaluate whether the resource will be beneficial to you!  Again, make sure that the resource has information specifically keyed to your casebook before investing!

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